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Do You Want to be a Squirrel?
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Every day a squirrel has been industriously burying nuts in our backyard, preparing for the winter. So much simpler than carting tinned beans home from the grocery. And cheaper.

Sometimes I envy that squirrel.

He doesn't wonder where the next dollar is coming from. He doesn't live by his wits. He has instinct to guide him. He does what needs doing without fretting about the future. Does a squirrel dread the approaching cold and snow? Does he worry about heating bills, frozen pipes, mortality or the meaning of existence?

Of course not.

Well, I don't think so. Admittedly I can't know for sure what goes on in a squirrel's head.

Maybe he's digging an acorn hole and muttering to himself.

"Damn! Broke another claw. How the hell am I going to cling to icy branches if I lose all my claws on these ##$$&&!! rocks? Maybe I should be scouting around for an abandoned woodchuck burrow. Do I know a rabbit who needs a roomie?

"What does it matter if won't be able to climb a tree by the time the snow falls? I'll never be able to find these stinking nuts anyway. I should've made a map. Needless to say I don't have the instinct to do that.

"Instinct! Bah! Like VCR instructions written in China.

"Even if I find these nuts they're going to be filled with worms. Ugh. How many have I buried? How many will I need, supposing half of them are inedible. Oh, wait, squirrels can't do simple arithmetic. Thanks instinct! You bastard! Let me starve.

"I ought to be making a nest. That I have the instinct for. Yeah, just what I want to do, curl up in a bunch of sticks and dead leaves in the top of a tree in zero degree temperatures. Feasting on wormy, frozen acorns. Four months of damn acorns -- if I can find them -- and waiting for my so-called house to drop sixty feet to the frozen ground every time the wind blows.

"I'm not going to live through the winter. I know it. I'm going to starve, or freeze, or fall. That scabby black cat is going to get me.

"Oh dear God. I had nightmares about that cat again last night. I can feel it watching me all the time. It's probably lurking right now. Did those ferns move? Ah, just the wind. Frigid. A winter wind.

"Hey, at least by December my lice go into hibernation. I ought to be Stoic. Right.

"Marcus Aurelius, my ass. He should've tried living in a tree!"

Yes, for all I know that squirrel out there is nervous wreck. Now I feel much better.

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